Oly-Whites scrape into Olympic qualifying final

09:04, Mar 23 2012
Louis Fenton and Greg Draper
DOUBLE STRIKE: Both Louis Fenton (left) and captain Greg Draper netted goals as the New Zealand Under-23 team held on to beat Vanuatu 3-2 to reach the Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament final.

The Oly-Whites have only just scraped through their semi-final in the Oceania men's Olympic qualifying tournament with a 3-2 win over Vanuatu.

The Kiwis set up a final date with Fiji on Sunday after surviving a scare from Vanuatu in what was expected to be an easy win for the home side.

An early goal to Louis Fenton got the New Zealand under-23s off to a flying start, the mid-fielder scoring off an Alex Feneridis cross to put them up 1-0.

It only took two minutes for the Oly Whites to score again with a James Musa header giving the Kiwis a 2-0 lead after just nine minutes.

After threatening twice in the first 20 minutes, Greg Draper made it 3-0 for New Zealand going into halftime.

Both sides rang in the changes in the second half and it paid off for Vanuatu. After several near misses, the visitors finally found the back of the net with Jean Kaltack scoring in the 70th minute.


Vanuatu looked to be down and out until a goal to Kensi Tangis in the first minute of injury time gave the Pacific Islanders a glimmer of hope.

The upset wasn't to be though as New Zealand hung on to put them one game away from qualifying for London.

Fiji earlier booked their place in the final with a 3-0 win over Papua New Guinea.

A penalty against the Papua New Guinea goalkeeper in the 24th minute gave the Fijians a spot kick, which captain Esava Naqeleca converted for a 1-0 lead.

The Fijian's couldn't connect again before halftime but another penalty against PNG early in the second gave Naqeleca his second penalty shot which he slotted to put Fiji 2-0 up.

A header to Zibraaz Sahib shortly after gave Fiji a three goal lead which they would hold until the final whistle.

The final will be held on Sunday at 4pm.